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Daily News  Oct 22 2002

Free legal help due for immigrants with AIDS

By ROBIN HAAS
DAILY NEWS WRITER

Gay Men's Health Crisis is opening a clinic in Woodside to provide free legal services to people in the borough's large immigrant community who are living with HIV/AIDS.

The program will be based out of the Queens Pride House at 67-03 Woodside Ave., where an opening ceremony and reception will be held next Tuesday. The new clinic, called the GMHC @ Queens Pride House, will serve the large numbers of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Queens who are immigrants and face the added challenges of language barriers, immigration issues, cultural barriers and stigmas.

"Because Queens has such a large immigrant population, we decided to partner with Queens Pride House," said Marty Algaze, a spokesman for Manhattan-based GMHC. "Many are at risk of being deported because of their HIV status. We realized there was a need to open a satellite facility in Queens specifically to make these services available to the immigrant community."

Although lawyers will assist clients mostly with immigration issues, they will also provide free counsel on landlord-tenant disputes, government entitlements, discrimination, estate planning, family law and other problems. Interns from the City University of New York Law School at Queens College will assist the on-site lawyers.

"There is a substantial population of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people living with HIV and AIDS in Queens that lacks easy access to legal services of this kind," said Raymond-Anthony Penko, executive director of Queens Pride House in a statement. "The establishment of GMHC's program of legal services at Queens Pride House will help meet that need."

City Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights) is expected to cut the ribbon at Tuesday's opening.

"Any program that can help meet the needs of a growing population needs to be encouraged," she said of the large number of immigrants living with AIDS and HIV in Queens. "They have unique challenges."